My name is Jason Shamel. During the course of my undergraduate education I took a few Indigenous studies courses that addresses the importance of acknowledging that we are all treaty people. While I’ve embraced this identity; it wasn’t without confusion. While I registered in these classes, my instructors always addressed the class as “white settlers”. I am not a white settler and because I’m not included in this address, Do I not matter? Am I not a Canadian? Am I not a member of this community? To reimagine Sojourner Truth’s famous speech, ” Ain’t I a Treaty person?”
In terms of my background, my mother is from Greneda, a country colonized by Great Britain and France. My father was born in Tenesssee. An area that has a history that is rooted in colonization, bondage, and imperialism. My parents knew how their children would be treated if they remained in the United States; which is why they moved to Canada. They came here with hopes that their children would have a chance to live their truths in a space that would be safe.
As a person of colour, as a Canadian, am I not included in this discourse. It is not my aim to take up space or to make the conversation all about me but the question still remains ” Ain’t I a treaty person?”